They are days of yore. The Jaguars are fewer than eight seasons old, but the days of loud, sellout crowds making Alltel Stadium one of the most difficult road venues in the NFL are clearly in the past. Tom Coughlin wants to return to the "old days" this Sunday when the Jaguars host the New York Jets.
"We need to get back to the business of utilizing homefield advantage. We had great momentum at home. Our crowd was into it big-time. I'd like to think we could get to that situation again," Coughlin said following practice today.
These days, sellout crowds are a product of the Jaguars' marketing agreement with supermarket giant Winn-Dixie. But that doesn't mean everyone who goes to the market for a free ticket will use that ticket on Sunday. In the season-opener against the Colts, the paid attendance of 56,595 left Alltel with more than 16,000 empty seats.
"It's obviously not the same numbers, not the same energy," quarterback Mark Brunell said in comparing crowds of the last two years to those of 1995-99. "This place used to just rock. But we do appreciate those who still come out and support us," Brunell added.
The Jaguars were 7-1 at home in each of the 1996-99 seasons. In the past two seasons, however, the Jaguars have posted 4-4 and 3-5 records. With this year's loss to the Colts, the Jaguars have now lost four straight at home and six of their last seven.
"Once the game starts … you're not thinking I wish it was louder. But for us up in Kansas City, it was unbelievable," Brunell said. "The first step is you've got to get the people in the stands. We can help that by putting together a real good season and people next year will be real excited about the Jaguars."
"That's the difference," wide receiver Jimmy Smith said. "We haven't won the past couple of years. If we can get that back we'll be an even stronger football team. You have to give them their money's worth."
The Jaguars' plans are to begin rewarding their fans this Sunday.